As part of our celebrating the Dallas Stars first two decades in Texas, the writers at Defending Big D are picking out some of the moments that come to mind when we think of Dallas Stars hockey.
When I think of the Dallas Stars return to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2000, the memory that makes me smile the most is Reunion Arena coming together to both cheer Ed Belfour and mock Patrick Roy.
The two goalies were among the best in the league at the time but had very different reputations. In spite of (or maybe because of ) his very flamboyant style and outspoken personality, along with his Stanley Cup titles, Roy was considered the premier goalie in the game. And Belfour, despite having put his experiments with crease clearing behind him and being the defending Stanley Cup champion, still carried the reputation of "Crazy Eddie" who had to be watched carefully in the clutch.
The two matched up for the second consecutive year in the 2000 Western Conference Finals, where Belfour proved once again that he had Roy's number as he led the Stars to a seven-game series victory. There's surprisingly little written about the chant available online, though there are references to it in several stories. The best write up still available 12 years later is probably this blurb from the Dallas Observer.
It recounts how just before the Stars and Avalanche met in the Western Conference Finals in 2000, Belfour made the public proclamation that he was just as good as Colorado goalie Patrick Roy. This got a lot of attention in the national hockey media, which found it to be a little bit absurd even though Belfour was a member of the defending Stanley Cup champions and at the peak of his goalie powers.
And then, as Belfour dragged his teammates back to the Stanley Cup Finals, the crowd at Reunion Arena let the hockey world know exactly how right Belfour was.
Ten minutes before Game 7 was over, the Reunion Arena fans began a chant that signaled they too agreed with Belfour's assessment of himself: "Ed-die's bet-ter...Ed-die's bet-ter." It was a wonderful f-you directed toward the overrated, head-bobbing Roy (who has now lost four straight Game 7s and allowed 16 goals in those games), and a nice public appreciation of the Stars' best clutch player.
More after the jump.
I think this stands out for me because Belfour's performance in both 1999 and 2000 is easy to overlook, especially given how his tenure in Dallas ended as he lost the starters job to Marty Turco and reverted a little into his "Crazy Eddie" antics. But during 1999 and especially 2000, he basically put aside all the personal demons and temper flares to be an incredibly steady presence that the Stars desperately needed.
While the ""Eddie! Eddie!" chant might be more ubiquitous, the "Eddie's better!" chant is more unique to him and encapsulates how he just owned the Avalanche when the Stars needed him most. And to me, Belfour always seemed like he was in a constant search for respect, whether that was respect for his personal space when clearing out his crease, respect from the media when telling them that yes, he did think he was better than Roy or respect from the fans after he lost some of it by offering to give a police officer one billion dollars late in that 2000 season. By not only chanting his name but acknowledging that he had outperformed maybe his biggest rival once again, the Reunion Arena crowd showered that respect on him.
Sadly, a search turned up no video of fans at Reunion Arena raising their collective voices in that chant. But there was visual evidence of how Belfour dragged that 2000 team, at times kicking and screaming, back to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Here's the final few minutes from Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference Finals, where the Stars had gotten up 3-0 but gone into a shell after that and clung to a 3-2 lead in the final, desperate minutes. It was moments like that final deflection on Ray Bourque's shot that proved why, for these years at least, Eddie was indeed better.